So I'll just say this: it is a heavy day.
Death and destruction in Joplin, Missouri.
Death here in our rural county, a friend of our church and a familiar sight all around this end of Powhatan as he rode his bicycle up and down Dorset Road - murdered yesterday, just a mile from where we live.
Sometimes I question the depth of the burden brought by news. Tornadoes in Joplin have wreaked tragedy, but I know no one who lives there. It's not personal.
I knew Robert in passing; the depth of our relationship extended to a wave on the road and conversations in the atrium on Sundays. Others will mourn his loss more deeply, and will feel his absence more intensely than me.
In light of my relative distance from both of these events today, it feels somewhat ridiculous to acknowledge that I feel so buried by sadness this morning. But I wonder if it is some indicator of maturity, advancing years, a marker of time gone by that causes me to feel such things as though they remind me of my very humanity.
We are all connected, in some way. We see our lives mirrored in the drama of others, and sometimes think, "There but for the grace of God..." Or we witness death and think, "My day is coming..." Or we just get a taste for how fleeting these days can be, how we are at the mercy of evil and nature, operating independently but wreaking similar havoc.
Or we are just sad, sympathy taking its natural course as we mourn and grieve our own or others' loss.
The end of our church service yesterday was powerful; Brian spoke of the gamble of faith undergirding the Christian belief in heaven. In the moment, we were reminded that our faith posits that one day we will see those who have gone before us. Brian called them by name: Randy, Bob, grandparents...and now Robert.
The strong foundation, the "YES!" I felt in that moment yesterday, is this morning replaced by the weight of the truth. Loss and pain and anger and frustration that life sometimes seems so ridiculously random. Two men shot down on a Sunday. A mile-wide tornado sinking down. Both brought destruction to what we see here on earth, and according to our faith, caught up these souls into the presence of Jesus.
The juxtaposition of such destruction and eternal life are not easy to reconcile. Not at the moment, anyway.
It is just a heavy, heavy day.
This song lyric makes me think of Robert and every conversation I ever had with him, every time I roared past him in my Big Red Suburban as he pedaled his bicycle. He always waved, to everyone. His light shown brightly.
And we won't be afraid, we won't be afraid, and though the darkness may come our way
We won't be afraid to be alive anymore
And we'll grow kindness in our hearts for all the strangers among us
Till there are no strangers anymore